Do You Believe Everything You Hear?: A Reflection from Shannon Curtis

Pastoral Associate
Shannon Curtis

The readings this week are a rollercoaster. First, we have Job. Poor guy is really in his feelings about what he has been through, and all does not seem well. “Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.” Listen, man, I get it. I think we’ve all felt like we’ve gone through days, weeks, and yes, months of misery. Did we all get a little Pandemic-flavored existential dread when we had that snowstorm a couple of weeks ago?
Psalm 147 offers us relief by reminding us that our God is the one who heals the brokenhearted. The dispersed will be gathered; what is broken will be rebuilt; there is justice. There is evidence of this work in the stories of the scripture. I trust in God to do all these things. But how will I know when it is happening? I find myself back down here with Job, lying on the floor, pondering the depths of despair. In the Epistle, we have Paul coming in with all his privilege and gusto. He says he’s not boasting about what a mission he’s on to convert and preach the Gospel. But he kind of is, right? I feel like he’s saying, “What a great day to be alive! I get to let the lowly know that the Good News! And through this, I accomplish my own salvation!” For me, it’s almost never Paul’s words that make him convincing. It’s his experiences that reveal how he lived the Gospel.
Thank God, in the Gospel according to Mark, we meet up with Jesus and he fulfills these promises we hear in the Old Testament readings. He cures Simon’s mother-in-law and then the rest of the town. And how does the mother-in-law react? She helps out! Jesus enters the stretch of his ministry at the heart of which is preaching and healing. We see Jesus acting (healing, miracles, engaging in conversation, etc.) more than we hear him standing alone and preaching. Again, the power of God is in what God does, not in what we (even prophets!) say God can or will do. We can also make this direct connection to ourselves. In his letter, James, reiterates that it is our work and our faith that put us on The Path (James 2:26).
When I was in Ireland last week, I took a train to Kildare, the home of many sacred sites of our unofficial co-patron St. Brigid (whose Feast Day was Feb. 1). Whereas her Irish co-patron, St. Patrick is known for his preaching (ok, and the snakes, of course), St. Brigid was, if anything, a woman of action. From giving up her family’s own food to feed others to founding monasteries and a school of arts, Brigid modeled what it means to be a Christian by helping others. It was her actions and accomplishments, how she lived her life, and the visible reality of her faith, that led people to conversion. So let us remember, that to love and serve God is to love and serve outside of ourselves. Dark moments, misery, struggles, doubt— all these things are natural and will find us (often) in our lives. It’s how we act and react that brings us closer to God and salvation.

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